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Published: Saturday, 8/3/2002

Hens collect 17 hits in 12-3 win

SPECIAL TO THE BLADE

NORFOLK, Va. - The Toledo Mud Hens are playing at a level where they don't need much help. But if the Norfolk Tides were going to commit five errors and issue six walks last night, Toledo was happy to win a laugher.

The end result was a 12-3 victory over Norfolk at Harbor Park in a game that was played at a snail's pace. Then again, when the Mud Hens collect 17 hits, it takes a little time.

Craig Monroe led the hit parade, going 4-for-6 and driving in five runs. Brian Rios went 3-for-5 and drove in two runs. And there were hits up and down the lineup as the Mud Hens (64-50) kept pace with the Louisville Bats, remaining a half-game behind the Bats in the International League's West Division race.

Toledo is 9-1 against the Tides with two games of this season's series left this weekend.

‘‘We got great pitching and great hitting,” Monroe said. “Right now, we're pretty focused on how we need to play.''

Through the first four innings however, neither team seemed very focused. The game's first six runs were all unearned.

The Mud Hens scored in the third with a helping glove as Tides second baseman Gil Velazquez let a grounder to the right side slide under his glove to allow Andres Torres to reach. Jarrod Patterson then chopped the next ball back to pitcher Jason Roach, but Roach booted it in anticipation of starting a double play.

One out later, Eric Munson singled to left to load the bases, then Derek Nicholson grounded a ball up the middle that Velazquez was able to shuffle to shortstop Jorge Velandia. But turning an inning-ending double play was impossible and Toledo led 1-0.

The unearned runs kept coming in the fourth. Ryan Jackson reached on a single to center, but should have been erased at second base when Rios grounded back to the mound. Roach committed his second error when he threw high to second. Torres walked, then Monroe delivered a bases-clearing double to center.

The Tides cut that 4-0 deficit in half in their half of the fourth and once again the runs were unearned. Marco Scutaro reached on an error by Toledo shortstop Omar Infante. Ty Wigginton singled. A double play left Scutaro at third and he scored on a swinging bunt single by Fletcher Bates. Aaron McNeal and Joe DePastino added RBI singles.

Toledo started to pull away with three runs in the seventh, starting with Monroe's long home run to left. Munson then doubled and Michael Rivera walked with one out. Rios and Infante then both singled with two out.

MUNSON HONORED: Munson was named the Tigers' minor league player of the month for July. The first baseman hit .418 last month with eight doubles, a triple, six home runs and 22 RBIs.



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